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Brittany, a 26-year-old waitress, tells me that when she joined Tinder, all her friends called her “Tinderella” because it was so weird to be on it. People love to blame Tinder for hookup culture, but Becky joined because she was looking for the opposite.
Her dad even paid for her to try with her location set to Raleigh because he doesn’t like the guys where she lives — but no one wants to drive two hours for a date.
New Bern was named by Market Watch as one of the top coastal towns in the country to retire to, so that leaves young, single people dating in the equivalent of a recycling bin.
You will inevitably run into an ex, or many, at one of the town’s three main bars. ’ He ignores me.”New women on the scene tend to be in town for weddings; new guys tend to be Marines, though they’re strictly nonmonogamous, due to a pervasive fear that — I shit you not — any woman who wants a relationship is angling for what’s known among locals as a “contract marriage,” an emotionless ploy to snare access to his good military salary and benefits.
“Downtown, there’s lots of friends with benefits,” says Paul, a 24-year-old sous chef.
“The women are, what’s the word, well-circulated.” John, a 24-year-old bartender, says that he’ll often have more than one waitress friend come by after her shift and ask if she can crash at his place downtown, and he’ll just sleep with the one who asks first.
He immediately struck me as sweet and affectionate — one of the only guys I’ve ever met online who wanted to talk on the phone first to make sure I wasn’t a bot and that we’d enjoy spending an evening together. That’s the feeling that rises up in my throat whenever anyone asks me the totally non-condescending question of why I’m still single, which I’ve answered so many times in so many tones (“Just haven't met the right guy, I guess! There was the guy who kept taking calls from a number he’d labeled “Happy Happy Fun Time,” which turned out to be his drug dealer. I've met guys in bars, at parties, while snowboarding, through friends, and online via Ok Cupid, Match, Tinder, Hinge, Happn, Bumble, The League, How About We, Coffee Meets Bagel, and even Nerve.com, a site for “literary smut” that hosted online personals in that early-aughts dark age before smartphones.Then I practically fell asleep at the wheel coming home.The next night, we had another terrific date wandering around New Bern and going on a ghost tour (half the town is haunted, apparently).